First Draft: Book To Follow, by Belinda Sadek
People say write about what you know. I am interested in the stories of our lives that exist inside our heads. I know about this.
Each of us narrates a tale that we blend and meld with our daily lives. Pausing from our reading to day dream on the bus as it passes that same house every day with the clean windows and the immaculate lawn, we ask: why would someone who can cultivate such a lawn grow nothing else? Choosing the linguine for dinner because we love to say ‘linguine’, reading purely for the joy of words well used, poring over magazines with their snapshots of impossible lives, smoothing a child’s cheek, like a little pink pillow of warm strawberry sponge, as smooth as icing under our finger.
I know about the little dialogues we have with ourselves about the unimportant and inconsequential things that fills our lives with meaning. I am for this: for the mish-mash, for the uncertainty and messiness of things, the daydreams and imperfect, half formed desires, the tales that each of us narrate in our heads that sometimes make it into the light of day and become part of stories that we read on the bus on the way home.
There is something else that guides my writing. Write about your passion they say, those things that intrigue you, that hold within them a fascination that drives you. For me one of these things is nature, the power of it to move me and to inspire me is unending. The softness of a landscape can bring forth in me a whole story, perhaps of a wedding on a hillside or a child’s body lying on the sand asleep or dead. Perhaps the warmth of summer air scented with eucalypt makes me happy and then I think of happiness rejected or sacrificed or mistaken and a story of unhappiness appears and gently prods me to tell it. The English countryside and the English folklore it nurtures holds a fascination for me. I am intrigued by the quirky ways the English have that they do not see as quirkiness. I am inspired by history and the inevitable veil it casts that forever makes the past exotic. The era between the World Wars speaks to me of endless stories to tell: those heady days of mad optimism then gradually the poignancy of lives not yet fully lived forced to face mortality. I love the restraint people exercised in 1930s England, their manners, their unwillingness to say what they meant, their courtesy toward each other and the things unsaid.
As an interior designer, the sumptuousness of the historical homes of the period also catches my fancy. As a lover of clothes and shoes, the elegant attire of the age makes me swoon. And as a lover of love, the romance of this era sends me into raptures: the loves lost, the loves reunited, love across borders, across classes, across oceans and against the odds.
I hope I can pull what I know and what I love into a tale about the choices people make, the responsibility we all must take for our own destinies, the backgrounds against which our lives play out and the influence great events have on our personal lives. The Stained Glass Horse is also a story about how our lives are constantly changing without our knowledge until we wake up one day and nothing is how we thought it would be and the only certainty is the tales we have told ourselves over the years – and the inescapable truth that we can never go back.
So what is there in a book called The Stained Glass Horse? There is a rural English setting, a grand house somewhat haphazardly run, in a time between the wars) when grand houses were generally well organised. This offers opportunities for unlikely scenarios and relationships to develop without impediment. There are layers of history and hearsay bearing down and blurring the distinction between reality and folklore. With the advent of war the world encroaches on the little universe of Derwent House and changes everything, including the landscape. A young man in love with a woman above his station sets out to save her, only to find it is himself who needs saving.
And so I will chip away and from time to time stop to talk about my progress. One thing is for certain, the more time invested and words following upon others the less the inclination there is it abandon it. I would like to change my initial statement in my first post from ‘I am writing a book’ (that would require editing, and I mustn’t) to ‘I am writing the first draft. Book to follow.’ It is a good feeling to be just writing.